All my fragrances comfort me. They surround me with beauty and artistry. They let me move inside an invisible sphere. That sphere is where I live.
Pure vanilla extract is a kind of perfume. It scents foods and drinks, giving them an elusive deliciousness. I haven’t found my perfect vanilla perfume yet, but I’ve dabbed fine Madagascar vanilla extract on my pulse points as a scent. While it lasts, it smells like home -- an idealized home. Perhaps that is the true definition of comfort.
The only requirement for a comfort scent is that I own a bottle of it -- enough to use generously. I save samples for daytime, for evaluation and identification. These are the concept scents, the new, the niche, the challenging, the ones I chase, always behind the curve. Usually there is nothing comforting about them. I don’t think they’re meant to be.
I like to sleep in a bed of roses.
My favorite rose for sleep -- or a nap (a midafternoon perfumed nap is the ultimate indulgence) is Rochas “Tocade,” that mixture of rose and boozy vanilla. When I wake up during the night, Tocade lulls me back to sleep. I don’t think I’ve ever worn it in the daytime. We’re strictly nocturnal, Tocade and me.
I’ve written a lot already about Cartier’s “So Pretty,” which is becoming a sleep favorite, too. It’s not challenging in any way, doesn’t insist on analysis. It’s just a rose, with soft berry and fruit, sweet, quiet and undemanding.
Rosine’s “Poussiere de Rose” is similar to “So Pretty,” -- I really have to compare them one of these days -- but, again, there is something about it that is relaxing. It’s soft, slightly sweet, a plummy rose, and when I apply it, I get a little delirious at first. It’s not as much a sleep scent as the other two, because there is also something ennervating about it, and I love to walk in its delightful haze.
Then there’s (vintage) YSL “Paris”. Somehow I missed this one during the Eighties. Violet is difficult note for me, too, but this scent....I haven’t yet actually worn it anywhere but to sleep....it’s not exactly because I’m afraid to wear it out of the house you see, it’s just so in your face. ROSE and VIOLET. I am fascinated by it. By the bottle, designed to recline on its side, in front of the more upstanding ones. I reach for Paris more often than I ever thought I would. And, after a few hours spent melting into skin, it’s so much more cooperative. And it’s still there in the morning.
In summer, my tastes change a little. The American South is known for its humid nights, and I put away my heavy resin scents in April. Even cooled by air conditioning, the senses know it’s steamy outside. Thousands of tiny tree frogs roar all night, the bullfrogs drum and the grasshoppers rasp. Sometimes I hear owls hooting, cats fighting -- the natural world is wide awake. On the hottest nights I still love “Eau Parfumee au the vert,” with its light cardamom, tea (and a little bit of rose). Or “Anais Anais,” the coolest fresh-flowers scent I know. Or “Silences,” with its loads of galbanum green, just slightly bitter. These two layer beautifully, as fresh as morning.
A recent vintage discovery is Coty’s “L’Aimant.” I bought a big bottle of the cologne. It has the old-fashioned aldehyde note, but it dries to the softest, most powdery floral I’ve yet found. It’s subtle, so if I want to punch it up a little, I wear the perfume, too. I haven’t tried this in summer yet, but will, and maybe as a sheets spray.
There are other summer sleep scents in my collection -- vintage “Intimate,” a soft and powdery Chypre; Lanvin’s “Oxygene,” an ozonic floral (never thought I’d like one of these, but I like this one) and the soft, incense-and-heliotrope Barbara Bui. For hot weather day wear, I’m partial to citrus and forthright greens. They bring something else to the party -- the sense of touch. Comfort for a July day: a cool spray on overheated skin. Like “4711” straight from the refrigerator, in that big bottle, enough for head to toe. “O de Lancome,” after a workout or before a class. Light citrus-patchouli “Eau de Rochas,” bone-dry vintage “Y,” the green leaves and violet “Eau de Cartier;” our summers are long.
When I lived in Los Angeles, there was a jasmine vine under my bedroom window. The perfume from its blossoms wafted up and found its way to me on summer nights. The scent was intermittent, riding in on the breeze. Although some have come close, I’ve never found a jasmine perfume that matches it.
But trying is so much fun.
This article's title is an homage to Michelyn Camen's original article of this same name on Sniffapalooza Magazine in 2008.
OTHER PARTICIPATING BLOGS: (Thanks to Ayala Moriel for organizing this!)
Katie Puckrik Smells
Roxana's Illuminated Journal
Notes from the Ledge
The Non Blonde
Perfume in Progress
A Rose Beyond the Thames
I Smell Therefore I Am
All I Am A Redhead